When it comes to casino table games, we all know that blackjack is also known as 21. It’s a simple game where you need to get an amount higher than the dealer, without getting more than 21 in total. But, you’re not reading this to find out how to play blackjack – you’re here to find out more about the six MIT students who spent weekends in Las Vegas counting cards and winning in the game of blackjack. Card-counting is, of course, illegal at casinos, but these students almost got away with it.
The movie 21 is loosely based on a true story and stars Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fishburne and the once-popular Kevin Spacey, but we’ll get to the latter shortly. In a nutshell, and without giving away too much, the story revolves around Ben Campbell (played by Sturgess), who cannot afford the tuition fees when he’s accepted into Harvard Medical School. He meets Professor Micky Rosa (Spacey) who invites him to join his blackjack team. Campbell soon discovers that the students (under leadership of Rosa) learn to count cards, making it easy to win at blackjack in a not-so-legal way. After numerous trips to Las Vegas, greed takes over and the plot thickens. Twists and turns can be expected and the fate of the students, and that of Rosa, will keep you guessing to the very last minute.
21 was a box office hit when it was released in 2008, earning $157.9 million on a budget of $35 million, and gained even more attention when it was released on DVD.
What is a movie without some controversy? 21 is no exception – as the original students were all Asian, there were a few backlashes from critics using white actors to portray the students. Jeff Ma, however, who was the real-life inspiration for the character of Campbell, has said in an interview that he would have been more insulted if they chose someone who was Asian-American just for the sake of having an Asian to portray him, and he was extremely excited to have a talented actor instead to be part of the movie.
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Movies Similar to 21
Finding a movie that’s similar to one that you enjoyed may not be as easy as it seems. In 21, for example, did you like the fact that the students beat the casinos? Or is it because the movie was about the game of blackjack, or simply a movie about the casino? Or did Kevin Spacey portray his role so well that you want to see other movies with him as the main character? See what I mean? Well, here are a few movies that kind of sum up everything – so you can choose what the deciding factor for you was. These movies include Runner Runner, Casino Jack, Rounders, The Social Network, Catch Me If You Can and The Usual Suspects.
The Rise and Fall of Kevin Spacey
As they say in Hollywood: “One day you’re in, and the next day you’re out”. Kevin Spacey remains a brilliant actor with an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (The Usual Suspects) and an Academy Award for Best Actor (American Beauty) under his belt, as well as a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor (House of Cards).
In 2017, Spacey was accused, by actor Anthony Rapp, of making sexual advances toward him when he was 14. Shortly afterwards, numerous other men accused Spacy of either sexual harassment or sexual assault and, in a matter of days, Spacey’s career was over, so to speak. Whether these allegations are true or not, they have not been proven as yet, but where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If you can overlook his latest conduct and separate the man from the on-screen character, then why not give the movie, 21, a try today.